In fact, the weekend saw air traffic cross 400,000 on the two consecutive days on domestic routes, which was again a first in the past two-and-a-half years. On Saturday, airlines flew 405,963 passengers.
According to the civil aviation ministry, airlines operated 2,739 domestic flights on Sunday. Go First achieved the highest seat occupancy of 96.7 per cent, followed by SpiceJet and Air India, which registered over 95 per cent loads each.
The upswing in air traffic comes before the Christmas-New Year holidays, which is a busy period for the tourism sector.
“This new high of total post-pandemic domestic air travellers in India speaks of both the resilience and the growth potential of Indian aviation. IndiGo itself welcomed 250,000 customers on Sunday,” IndiGo Chief Executive Officer Pieter Elbers said. “Overall, we remain confident and optimistic with our efforts to reach new heights and cross new frontiers as we further increase connectivity and accessibility.”
Added Gaurav Patwari, vice president (Air) of Mumbai-headquartered online travel company Cleartrip.com, “A strong demand is seen across all segments, and December is expected to be robust. The recent correction in oil prices and a stable rupee are favourable macroeconomic factors for the airlines, and will help them to recover from the past losses.”
According to Ameya Joshi, founder of aviation blog Network Thoughts, the highest ever passenger growth in the past two-and-a-half years was achieved on Sunday with fewer flights. On April 17, domestic airlines had transported 407,975 passengers in 2,838 flights, he pointed out.
The number of flights being operated now is lower due to the grounding of 50-plus Airbus A320neo planes of Go First and IndiGo.
All through the past week, air traffic has been upwards of 385,000. Corporate travel, too, is said to have contributed to the growth with business people making trips before Christmas and year-end breaks.
“We will continue to see 400,000-plus traffic figures regularly. This will not be an isolated episode,” a civil aviation ministry official remarked.